A weekly guide to what’s new on DVD and Blu-ray
Pick of the Week: Moonrise Kingdom
Two worlds live side-by-side without understanding each other in Moonrise Kingdom (Criterion): The world of children and the world of grown-ups. Set on the idyllic New England island of New Penzance as the summer of 1965 turns to fall, Wes Anderson’s 2012 film tells parallel stories. In one, a pair of alienated 12-year-olds named Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) fall in love and run away together, accompanied by a stack of books, a record player, a kitten, and other essentials. In the other, Suzy’s parents Walt and Laura (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) continue the process of letting their marriage fall apart while Laura has an affair with island’s police captain, and only police officer (Bruce Willis). Also on hand, members of the Anderson stock company both new to the fold (Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban) and old (Jason Schwartzman).
The film’s two sets of characters live on opposite sides of the divide between innocence and experience, and Moonrise Kingdom portrays both states as having their perils and disappointments. An orphan, Sam has bounced from one unstable situation to another and seems only a step away from running out of options. Suzy lives with parents who give her attention without warmth. They’re in a hurry to grow up, but the film portrays adulthood as an endless series of compromises where youthful passion gets traded for safety and sadness. Few directors are as skilled at balancing the bitter with the sweet as Anderson, and few of his films strike that balance as well as Moonrise Kingdom. It’s a coming-of-age tale with a deep understanding of what’s gained and what’s lost with growing up.
The Criterion Collection tends to go all out for their Wes Anderson releases, and Moonrise Kingdom is no exception. Highlights include home movies shot by Norton, some animated versions of Suzy’s books, and a lot of behind-the-scenes footage, some of it featuring a mostly sober Murray. The highlight, however, is an audio commentary “hosted” by child actor Jake Ryan, who plays one of Suzy’s brothers. Joined by Anderson, Ryan places a series of phone calls to Norton, Murray, Schwartzman and co-writer Roman Coppola while peppering Anderson with questions from fans. (Learned: Bill Murray loves the Kurosawa movie Red Beard, but has never seen Bottle Rocket.)